Today Valentine’s Day is all about romance, love and passion. It is a happy time, a day to celebrate the deep feelings between two people, to take time out of their busy lives to remember what it is that they love about each other and spend time revisiting good memories. Red roses, chocolates, a romantic dinner for two and token gifts of love are all part of the special day celebrations on February 14th .
The history of Valentine’s Day is extremely different to the romantic notion we have of today. The entire beginnings of this special day were actually bloody and violent in complete contrast to today’s understanding of what February 14th is all about. Though the exact origins are not known it is believed that it began in ancient Rome. At the same time the term ‘hitting on women’ began, although instead of talking to women in the hope of striking up a friendship men actually physically hit women. It is very fortunate that this method of getting a woman’s attention is no longer fashionable.
It all centered on a festival, Lupercalia, that was held each year between February 13th and 15th . A goat and a dog were sacrificed and then the hides were used to whip the young women who lined up. It was believed that the whipping would ensure the women’s fertility. The beatings were quite brutal but were followed by a lottery in which the young men would draw out the name of one of the women and would be matched with her for the duration of the festival. If the two made a good match their relationship could last long after the festival ended.
The name of the celebration may also be due to the ancient Romans. It appears that on February 14th of two separate years Emperor Claudius II put to death two men, both named Valentine. The Catholic Church honored their martyrdom by declaring February 14th Saint Valentine’s Day.
It was largely due to Shakespeare and Chaucer that St. Valentine’s Day lost a lot of its bloody connotations, with both of them romanticizing the day in their writings. By the Middle Ages people were sending each other handmade paper cards and both Britain and Europe had adopted the day as one of romance. It took a little while for it to reach the rest of the world but is now widely celebrated.
Today Valentine’s Day has become very much commercialized. It all began with the greeting card industry and had a flow on effect to gift giving. Millions are now spent on both traditional and non-traditional gifts, making it one of the best events of the year for retailers. Florists, chocolatiers, and greeting card manufacturers benefit most from the high level of sales leading up to February 14th . These are the three traditional gifts that a large number of lovers give to their significant others.
A Little Bit Of History Behind Following Gifts.
The giving of flowers on Valentine’s Day dates back as far as the 17th Century. The rose has long been a symbol of love and was supposedly the favorite flower of the Goddess of Love, Venus. Since the roses are an integral part of the Valentine’s Day, more and more men are looking for something unique to give their lady. Great news! Men are lucky, because they have the unique chance to give a real rose dipped in 24k gold. As the flower that represents all forms of love it was only natural that lovers would give flowers to the object of their love to show them how strong their feelings were for them.
Today red roses are the most popular flower given to women as a token of love. A single long-stemmed red rose is one of the most popular choices, but many men give their significant other a dozen red roses. As the price of red roses is often inflated just prior to Valentine’s Day, a dozen can come with a hefty price tag attached. The meaning of the single red rose is no less than that of a dozen.
Originally Valentine’s Day cards were handmade but it wasn’t long before manufacturers began making them. The very first card of record was a poem written by Charles the Duke of Orleans to his wife from his prison cell in the Tower of London in 1415. By the 16th Century the exchanging of cards was growing popular and by the early 19th Century a Valentine card was the most commonly given gift.
Today millions of cards are exchanged on February 14th , and not just between lovers. Children exchange cards with their classmates and teachers, family members give each other cards, but of course men and women will give each other Valentine’s Day cards that express their deep love for each other.
The Spanish introduced chocolate to the New World in the 17th Century and it wasn’t long before it became very popular. Some considered chocolate to be an aphrodisiac which may be part of the reason that it very quickly became associated with love, and therefore a traditional gift to be given and enjoyed on Valentine’s Day.
Today it is common for chocolates to be given on February 14th . For those in love it is a symbol of that love, but chocolates are also given by friends who are fond of each other, parents to their children and sons to their mothers and mother-in-laws. Chocolates range in quality and price greatly, and though they are the same chocolates it is the box that they are packaged in for Valentine’s Day that makes them special. Traditionally the chocolates are presented in a heart-shaped box with a beautiful image of roses on the lid.